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Honor Park opens, sheepdog finds permanent home

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Bronze statue of sheepdog is draped by color guards in the background for opening day. Image courtesy of the town.

Just a couple of yards away from Little Elm Town Hall stands a bronze statue of a sheepdog. To the common visitor, it is just another piece of art. But for the residents here, it is a solum reminder of a man who laid down his life in the pursuit of garnering the peace.

The long anticipated grand opening of Little Elm’s Honor Park occurred last week, bringing the top brass of city officials. The park, that has been in planning since the death of Detective Jerry R. Walker, stands as a testament to all those who have served and especially those who have given the ultimate sacrifice.

Few events have garnered so much support and attention in the town and this unveiling felt like a culmination of years of effort. It also proved to be monument finally capable of encapsulating the entire man and the legend of Little Elm’s only fallen office, Det. Walker. Walker, who was a beloved officer, perished in a firefight on Jan 24, 2017.

“No one ever expected, in the town of Little Elm, to lose an officer in the line of duty. Jerry (Walker) passed away,” Rodney Harrison, police chief, said. “The salvation of that whole thing, if I could say there was one really bright spot, was what our community did. I am very thankful for that.”

This park is meant to honor Walker and much more. Stationed right next to the police station, fire station and town hall, the defining feature of this monument is a sheepdog statue. Walker, and his fellow officers, are said to be sheepdogs. They walk directly into the front lines to protect the people and town they love. According to Lieutenant David Grossman, the sheepdog is a “warrior who walks the hero’s path”.

The park also features statues of sheep, who the dog herds, and a reflecting pool for people to come a pay their respects. There are shaded areas for people to sit and also a path carved in donated stones. These bricks have names of loved ones, donor names and even inspirational phrases. Those who bought a brick helped to fund the park.

“First Responders Park is not only going to honor Walker, but it is meant to capture that spirit our citizens brought forward (after his death),” Harrison said. “Any citizen, any employee of the town, any non-citizen can be apart of this. I can’t think of any better way to honor our first responders. It is just a confirmation that our citizens have our first responder’s backs.”

As the park opens, the hearts and minds come rushing back to Walker. Hundreds of residents bought brinks to help fund the park and show their support. It was truly something everyone could, and wanted to, be apart of.

“After the city council decided to move forward on the project, I couldn’t believe the outpouring of support we started to get from businesses and people who wanted to be apart of this,” Harrison said.

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